5 Actually Useful Tips to Practice French If You Missed the $99 Flight to Paris

If you are love French, love languages, or just love lists of five, here are some entertaining avenues for learning that have helped me improve my speaking and comprehension skills without getting bored.

1. Watch French movies with French subtitles.

“Aha” moments are guaranteed, since how it sounds and how it’s written are two different things in French, as you know by now. It's also helpful to have the written cues if you are an advanced learner but are unfamiliar with French outside of France (varieties in West Africa, Switzerland, Québec or les DOM-TOM, for example). Also, while there is not a huge amount of original French content on Netflix, you can change the settings on some films to French dubbing with French subtitles.

2. Check out Les Victoires de la Musique.

This Grammy equivalent, awarded by the Ministry of Culture every year, is a great place to start discovering what’s playing on French radio. Forget dancing on the Avignon bridge and planting cabbage with your elbow: lucky for you, there is a ton of quality, catchy, well-written French pop and rap right now, from forerunner Stromae to the excellent Christine and the Queens (check out her Michael Jackson moves here). A young and hip member of my family would like me to add Franco-Argentinian brothers Bigflo et Oli and rapper Orelsan, and while subtle lyrics may not be their strongest suit, the music is solid, interesting and an excellent way to absorb some French rhythm, rhyme and a few bad words.

3. Listen to a French podcast.

French radio for all levels is available online from the basic Journal en français facile from Radio France Internationale, available with transcript, to the advanced programs of France Culture (the title of a recent broadcast was Les tonalités affectives dans la perception du milieu ambiant en architecture et en urbanisme : Bollnow, Bachelard, Zumthor). France Inter is an excellent mainstream resource for news, new music, humor, geopolitics, and history programs.

4. Watch the news in French.

Replay from regional nightly newscasts is available from Channel 3—you can get the latest from Paris, Corsica or Auvergne without getting the following message: Pour des raisons de blablabla, cette vidéo n'est pas disponible depuis votre position géographique. If you are a beginner/intermediate or a younger learner, I strongly recommend Arte, the French-German cultural channel. Arte Journal Junior, a short daily weekday newscast, and Le Mag, a longer version, are both great for current events vocabulary.

5. Pounce on a French speaker.

Quick. Before you overthink it. Have a few phrases and questions up your sleeve and anticipate the answers. The adrenaline-fueled sense of satisfaction that comes from risking even a brief interaction in your target language is amazingly motivating. It’s like nothing else. And as a bonus, if your children are with you, you will embarrass them forever, seriously Mom can you just stop.

Stay tuned for more language tips! à bientôt !


©2019 by Adventures in French.  Photos courtesy of Frédéric Trottier.

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